Dick Pound's Trial By Water: If Floyd Floats, He's a Witch. If He Sinks, He's Dead Anyway or, How the WADA/USADA Anti-Floyd Intifada Helped Restore Respect for the Star Chamber
March 21, 2007
FL: I don't expect to win the Tour at this point, it's not easy to get back eight minutes, but I'll keep fighting. It's not over yet.
Q: How do you deal with this from a mental standpoint?
FL: I don't know. Drink some beer? That's what I'm thinking about now.
--Floyd Landis, After Stage 16 of the Tour
"It's a great story, but if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. He was 11 minutes behind [sic], and all of a sudden there's this Herculean effort, where he's going up mountains like he's on a goddamn Harley."
--Dick Pound, Chief BlueCoat, WADA/USADA Intifada
"Bitter Good. Sour Bad."
--Max Kash Agro, Back in The Day
We know the story. In dumbed-down bikie parlance, Floyd had a "bad day" and lost the yellow jersey. He didn't bonk. He didn't crash or crater. On that one day, he just couldn't go as fast as everyone else, his "form" woefully absent. That night, did he curse the gods, throw in the towel, or cry in his spilled milk?
|Dazed but Enthused. After a monumental Flail on Stage 16, Floyd loses the Yellow J, but gains newfound, deeper and richer bitterness. Suddenly, pounding peckerheads has become personal.
Photo provided by MKA
No, he had a beer, a big fat Belgian Ale, brewed by Trappist monks, for whom a fine ale is a decent substitute for sweat-soaked sex. And he ruminated. MKA, having plotted many winning strategies himself with the aid of Belgian beer, imagines the conversation with self went something like this: "Thebastards. I'll show 'em. F that. I don't care about them. That's sour. I care about me - me and my boys, who carried me, who believed. I care about my dignity. I'm better than today. I swear, tomorrow, somebody's gonna get punched in the neck."
That "somebody" of course was Father Shame, that tinny inner voice that counsels "it's all over Johnny, lay down, don't embarrass yourself any more than you already have." We all know that Floyd went on to smack Father Shame in the neck, before he cut it clean off and pissed down the stump.
How did he do it? That's a question that has invited much speculation. Some say it was pure rage. Others say it was tactical brinkmanship aided and abetted by Lady Luck. And still others say it was the most magical of all performance enhancing compounds - plain old H20. The theory being that alone off the front he had the liberty to douse his steaming head at will, to prevent overheating.
And there's the other, sadly more popular theory.
A few harried techs in a gypo French Lab with a history of sloppiness first mislabeled the specimens then measured them against a questionable standard not shared by other labs and finally concluded that it was drugs - epitestosterone, to be exact. Never mind that the French lab techs broke a bunch of rules to reach this result. Never mind that the same specimen if read by the UCLA lab would have been negative. Never mind that Floyd had never tested positive before or after stage 16. Never mind that a single spike of epi could not possibly have generated a boost of this magnitude.
|Waterboard Therapy. Floyd, on a quest, finds that sweet spot between hot headed madness and cool-headed comfort. As he said later, "I didn't spend too much time thinking during the stage." Enemy, thy name is ratiocination.
Photo provided by MKA
And never mind that Floyd was and is the personification of grit and tenacity. This was a young lad who had paid his dues, rising from the septic tank in Farmersville he once shoveled in the dead of winter to come out to Orange County a decade ago where according to lore he narrowly edged MKA one fine morning at Como Worlds on his way to fame and free board on Horseteef's coveted couch as Mercury's strongest plowhorse. Floyd was no "one-shot wonder" come out of nowhere to steal the show. He had the numbers. He put in the hours, he "rode it like he stole it", and not once did he complain about his rotten, pain-stabbing hip as he won race after race to get ready for the big dance.
But forget about that. That one positive drug test, despite it's fuzziness, destroyed everything. Before you could say "Cotton Mather," Floyd was accused, tried, convicted and punished for sins against the sport.
It's a sad and ongoing tale that's been the subject of much thoughtful commentary. But here's what irks MKA: the near joyous ease with which the Crabcoats, and eventually the cow-eyed public, quickly chalked up the Epic Ride of the Century to artificial enhancers. Guilt was presumed. The fact of Floyd's great ride became Exhibit one in the prosecution's case against him.
Don't misunderstand. MKA knows that most cyclists are envious idiots who measure every performance against their own standard, which is a line that usually hovers between mediocrity and abject failure. Once, MKA won back to back Como Worlds (granted, he did motorpace off of cars, but that's beside the point). Otherwise decent folks began whispering that MKA was "on the juice," which I took as sort of a compliment , on account that taking juice required a level of pre and post ride discipline that just didn't square with the fact that for me remembering to fill my bottle with Cytomax meant I had become a "serious player."
No, it's not surprising that the Crabcoats and many cyclists presumed guilt. The Crabcoats got to trumpet their high-minded hooey about how they are protecting the noble sport from cheaters. Pin-headed cyclists got a break from the ugliness of having to admit they'd never rise to Floyd's level, since being Floyd now meant you had to drug up. And the general public never had much trouble enjoying the downfall of a hero.
What it surprising is that the very authority charged with promoting "health, fairness and equality for athletes" would so righteously stomp all over the rights of an athlete. I am speaking of course of the Crabcoat-in-Chief, Dick Pound, the over-achiever who heads up WADA when he's not writing tomes on tax shelters, adding more deep pile chevrons to his doctoral gown, or desperately trying to convince the world that despite his unfortunate birth name he is neither a wanker nor a spanker.
Mr. Pound/Flail may already be well known to you as the modern day Inspector Javert who doggedly sought to prove Lance was a doper (citing as evidence, I'm sure, the impossible 7 yellow jersies). Not finding any, he didn't give up, but continued to thunder accusations with a singular passion that earned him a rare but somewhat timid censure from his colleagues at the IOC, who no doubt were spooked by the specter of a possible defamation action.
In his latest crusade against Floyd, Mr. Pound has continued to let the fact of a great performance be proof enough of doping. MKA has taken the trouble of bringing to you a few of Mr. Pound's quotes. As you read them, ask yourself, if you were accused of a crime, and your life, liberty and pursuit of happiness was on the line, would you want Judge Pound to preside over your case? I write "Judge" Pound because oddly enough Mr. Pound belongs to a small pool of arbitrators who have been approved by the Crabcoats to judge doping cases. Theoretically, Mr. Pound could have been selected to judge Floyd's case, and he certainly can be selected to judge any action that may be in your 12k Dream driven future.
On August 14, Pound wrote an opinion column in a Canadian newspaper in which he implored Landis to come clean, confess and save the sport by identifying his enablers. Can anyone say: "Just sign the papers! Resistance is futile!" Pound argued against any notions that Landis could be innocent, or that the evidence may be faulty. Instead, strangely enough, he attacked USADA (the same body that has refused to give up any exonerating evidence but is hell bent to dig up new incriminating evidence) for not being cynical enough. He suggested that Floyd, if allowed to put on a full case by any ordinary standard of due process, just might be able to bamboozle the gullible milquetoasts over USADA into accepting the theory that he was "ambushed by a roving squad of Nazi frogmen and injected against their will with the prohibited substances."1
In the same article, Pound repeated the charge that Landis was guilty of doping in a way calculated to show that Pound agreed, without explicitly concurring. "Landis, winner of the fabled Tour de France, following a Cinderella comeback late in the race, erasing a disastrous day before, now seems to have taken a morning-after pill to recover from the previous failure and will likely be stripped of the crown that is the dream of all cyclists - the Yellow Jersey in the showcase event of cycling."2
Again, for Pound, a former swimmer turned tax scholar who probably never engaged in man-to-man combat in a ruthless, savage bloodsport like, uh, cycling, the only explanation for Floyd's amazing ride was that old blackmagic packed in a pill. Any theory to the contrary would be absurd. Reminder: these are quotes from the Chief Crabcoat at WADA, which ultimately could rule on any appeal.
Mr. Pound/Flail's bias against Floyd was clear before he was formally charged. We know the protocol: the athlete urinates in a cup, which is split into two containers. If the first container, the A test, is positive, then and only then will the second container be tested. An athlete can only be charged with a positive if the B sample confirms. Before Floyd's B sample was tested, or the results made known, Pound has already made his mind up, which he gladly shared with anybody holding a camera. "It's always disappointing when you see something like this," Pound told the Associated Press. "You build up and create a new hero, and he gets slapped down. It's a serious blow."3
As a stunned but vigilant Floyd began to fight back, and poke holes in USADA's case, Pound's infantile slurs dropped to new lows. To wit. "'Roid Floyd? His nickname on the circuit was 'Roid Floyd. But I repeat it as hearsay only."4 Now, MKA is no bike geek, and I don't profess to have an inventory of all the nickies beyond Orange County, nor am I on the circuit, but I know Billy Stone, who is all of the above, and I asked him about this sobriquet - "'Roid Floyd," and he never heard of it, and they're practically pals. And it would have been newsworthy, too - why would a skinny mountain climbing endurance athlete want to hulk up with steroids? The answer is, I think, Mr. Pound fell in love with his power, made up the quote, and threw in the legal disclaimer because he knew he was skating on very thin ice.
As time marched on, Pound's smack continued to betray a mental condition . He described Floyd's Stage 17 win "as a great story," adding, "but if it seems too good to be true, it probably is. He was 11 minutes behind [sic], and all of a sudden there's this Herculean effort, where he's going up mountains like he's on a goddamn Harley."5
First, at the start of stage 17, Floyd was in 11th place about 8 minutes back, not 11 minutes. Second, is Pound suggesting that anytime an athlete bravely goes where no man has gone before that it's time to biopsy the liver for drugs? MKA thought his job was to foster athletic greatness, not retard it. Or, as the head of WADA which relies on government funding is Mr. Pound just another jelly donut eating bureaucrat trying to justify his budget? Third, get your metaphors right Dick. Harleys are hogs. Hogs slosh around in the mud and oink alot. If you're starting with the Roman god metaphor, stay with it. You meant to say that Floyd flew up those mountains like Hermes, the speedy messenger god with the winged sandals, who as we all know is Hercules' cousin.
|I'm Outta here. Was he thinking, I have nothing to lose, or I've got my respect to gain? A warrior on a quest makes his own medicine.
Photo provided by MKA
And fourth, Dick, have you ever watched a bike race? Yes, each of us harbors images of Floyd single handedly destroying the pelaton. We close our eyes and see him one by one dropping the best of the best (as he had been dropped and left for dead the day before). But, in terms of average watts per kilo, was Floyd's effort truly "super human" or "Herculean" in a physical sense? Check his numbers. My guess is he probably expended more energy on stages where he simply finished with the group.
What made Floyd's ride so majestic was the confluence of many factors: his rivals were tired (and entitled to their own bad day), they bet that Floyd's attack was for show, that he was simply venting anger, that he would never survive 128 kilos over five mountain climbs, they'd let him out of respect have his moment and he'd soon fizzle out.
Floyd made a tactical decision to hang it out there, with his team's support, just as his rivals made a tactical decision to let him go. Just as for every pound, there's a flail, or every hero there's a goat, and one can just as easily lambaste Oscar, Carlos and Kloden for miscalculating Floyd's grit and sitting back until it was too late.
Back to Mr. Pound's relentless do-gooderisms. Referring to Landis's reported T/E ratio, a measure used to identify doping, Pound told the New York Times, "You'd think he'd be violating every virgin within 100 miles. How does he even get on his bicycle?"6
Whoa Nellie. What have we got here? I'm no shrink, but is our tough-talking Drug Buster suffering from some kind of "cherry-pop envy?" What's the word: "projection"? Where a prig who harbors all sorts of unseemly sexual obsessions attributes those same perversions to others (see Ted Haggard, Jimmy Swaggart, Jim Bakker)? The kind of tortured double-life hypocrite, to paraphrase the famous German uber racer Fred Nietzsche, who fights with monsters only to become one, who gazes too long into the abyss until the abyss gazes back?
No, Dick, MKA's libido is as froggy as the next frustrated mid-lifer, but can't say it ever crossed mymind that Floyd would be violating virgins. Besides which, by all accounts, Floyd's happily married to a super hot wife, so MKA's not so sure Floyd has much need or interest in deflowering virgins, which if I remember correctly takes a lot of work and is highly overrated.
|Punched in the Neck! At the top of Morzine, 120 kilos after launching his epic attack, Floyd prepares to punch out his Phantoms, without falling flat on his face. Delerium, take me!
Photo provided by MKA
Finally, MKA's no doctor, but I'm not sure high testosterone corresponds to the size of one's sack. But I'm with you that one Dick, when I hear that somebody else has naturally high testosterone, I too feel sort of inadequate, like maybe I'm short changing Darling Wife.
In short, a dumb thing to say, and not very funny, and mean-spirited to boot. Perhaps an acceptable comment by a fellow smack-cracker in the anything-goes HackPack (that notorious in your face cyberworld where judicial restraint is a liability), but hardly appropriate for the King of WADA who has the ears, balls and paychecks of the USADA arbitrators in his unclean hands.
As we wind down, here's one of my favorites. After slinging mud at Floyd for months, and using his bully pulpit to condemn Floyd for the temerity of demanding old fashioned American due process, Mr. Pound declared that he truly was neutral and had no axe to grind. "The source of the skepticism is the Landis entourage itself which wants to create some doubts about the process, the labs or the tests. But we at WADA have never said anything about the guilt or innocence of the person involved."7
|Take that! Yesterday, somber and beffuddled, today, exuberant and mighty. The Pound/Flail spirit runs strong in this paleface.
Photo provided by MKA
Dick Pound has of course said much about the guilt of Floyd Landis and nothing about his innocence, except to suggest that any notions of same are preposterous (eg, Nazi frogmen, Roid-Floyd, the titillating possibilities of an enlarged nutsack, etc). In so doing, by my count, he's used up all but three of the seven deadly sins (lust, wrath, envy and pride). What the heck, let's throw in Sloth too, on account Dick's refusal to weigh the evidence carefully underscores the sin of laziness.
MKA Will Now Don the Black Robes and Silver Wig
Why should we care what a blowhard says? Well, MKA, himself a blowhard, will take a stab at answering, and forgive me for dropping the agro in favor of a more formal tone.
First, Mr. Pound is the head of an agency that is responsible for making sure the evidence is reviewed impartially, the science is sound, and the rules are fair. Second, his comments express an opinion about the guilt or innocence of the accused, while the case is being arbitrated. And third, whether by design or not, his pattern of bashing the accused has had the effect of influencing the opinions of the public, which includes each arbitrator.
Not only are Mr. Pound's slurs unfounded, and intemperate, they send the message that WADA has pre-judged Floyd's case. The message to athletes who test positive is that they are presumed guilty and that the appeals process is but an empty formality -- a very very expensive formality. This message contravenes the tenets of due process and invites genuine disrespect for the integrity of USADA's anti-doping rules.
USADA receives substantial funding from the federal government. When the rules under which athletes are tried do not safeguard the rights of the accused and result in unfair adjudications, legislators should certainly begin taking a hard look at whether or not this is a wise use of taxpayer dollars. Mr. Pound's reckless ad hominem attacks hurt the important fight against doping because they imply that the adjudication process is at best perfunctory and at worse a charade.
Athletes, Floyd included, I'm sure support efforts to even the playing field by deterring, ferreting out and punishing doping offenders. However, neither athletes, the American public, nor their legislators should support a process that is merely show. If Mr. Pound cared about the integrity of the sport as much as he says, he should spend less time destroying Floyd's reputation, and more time cleaning up a drug testing and adjudication system that has serious scientific and legal flaws.
Why should you care? Have you ever been deeked by a despotic blue coat for a center line violation you never did, or a chop you never made, or a statement you never made, or for drafting that never happened? Did that upset you some? Now imagine what it must feel like to have the yellow jersey ripped off your back, endorsement deals dropped, prize money withheld, your pursuit of a living taken away, your character besmirched and your reputation dragged through the mud. Floyd signed the same waivers we all signed. He signed up with this stoopid sport to race his bike. He, like all of us, assumed he'd be treated by the Crabcoats with some measure of respect. A drunk who plows his truck into a daycare center killing children has more rights than Floyd has.
No matter what the arbitrators decide on May 14th, Floyd is a champion, on a many levels. He has brought to our attention the need to drastically reform the system. At a minimum, all the governing bodies -- USOC, IOC, USADA, WADA, etc -- should immediately:
1) Ensure that rules against conflicts of interest in choosing arbitrators is strictly enforced. An arbitrator should be ineligible if he has worked for USADA prosecutors.
2) The accused athlete must be allowed to obtain all relevent evidence, whether it exonerates or inculpates. This includes he right to cross examine adverse witnesses in depositions. Truth and transpareny, not expedience and win at any cost.
3) Harmonize the anti doping rules so the accused faces only one trial, not multiple trials in different countries. The run of the mill 12k Dreamer cannot afford to hire lawyers and scientists to defend against one false accusation in his own backyard (estimated cost: $1.4 million), let alone in France, Switzerland and wherever as well.
4) Strictly enforce laboratory protocol. If a sample is mishandled, mislabeled, or misused, the results should be voided, just as when evidence seized by an illegal search or seizure is thrown out in criminal cases.
5) After a full public notice and comment hearing, establish doping standards that are both accepted by the scientific community and universally applied from nation to nation. It's a cardinal rule that the burden is on the state to write laws so they are easy to read and understand. In Floyd's case, the positivity criteria applied by the French lab is different (stricter) than the lab in the U.S. (it's been noted that had the anti-doping lab at UCLA tested the same specimens, they would not have found them positive). If WADA/USADA is going to put its faith in science (that is, if positive, then guilty), then it better be sure the standards are the result of vigorous scrutiny and independent peer review. We need to know that the substances that have been banned are truly the kind that artificially boost performance, that the methods used to detect those substances are reliable, and the technicians interpreting those results are neutral.
6) Allow athletes to appeal an adverse decision to a civil district court. USADA has expelled much hot air lecturing Floyd that he is in "arbitration," which is not "litigation," and thus by definition he must accept that he does not enjoy basic procedural and substantive due process. This is another way of saying: we make the rules, we enforce the rules, you are presumed guilty, and confess now, as everyday notions of justice must be sacrificed in our war against drugs. In some cases, USADA even makes up the rules as they go along.
Right now, we should be concerned. Mr. Pound is the proverbial Fox guarding the chicken coop. Any athlete who does something extraordinary is suspicious. Any athlete who tests positive is, in a word, doomed.
1 August 14, 2006, CyclingNews.com
2 August 14, 2006, CyclingNews.com
3 January 2007, Wired.com
4 January 2007, Wired.com
5 January 9, 2007, BBC Online
6 January 7, 2007, New York Times
7 January 24, WCSN.com
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